By Ray Dunlap
Many of you know that I used to be the head statistician for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in the 1980’s. Well, I will never forget my first game – because I screwed up big time, and I got blasted by Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau for messing up the yardage on certain plays, in particular those right at the first down marker. Thank goodness it was a pre-season game!
Here’s where I made my mistake – I remember James Wilder, running on a first down play, and gaining enough yards to force a measurement, which came up short by about one inch. Well, for me, sitting in the press box, since he gained 9 yards and 35 inches, I gave him a 10 yard run. On the subsequent play, he carried again, and was stopped at the line, causing another measurement, this time the Bucs got the first down by an inch. So, on this “two-inch” run, I credited Wilder with 0 yards.
Seemed logical to me.
But, the NFL rules are very specific on this point, and Hirdt made me painfully aware of it. Wilder, by falling short of a first down, even by one inch, is credited with a NINE yard run in that circumstance. Because, ten yards would have had to result in a first down. Consequently, his “two-inch” run should have been credited as a one yard run.
So, I have taken this concept and applied it to APBA Football.
But first, a little background on what NOT to do. When I ran the Suncoast Football League, I implemented a “measurement” rule that was not well thought out. The rule was this: if the result of the play ended exactly where the first down marker was, then you would roll one die – if the result was “odd” if was a first down, if the result was “even” it was one yard short.
Well, the negative feedback that I received was furious! And, justifiably so. It was a completely one-sided rule that only penalized the offense, and we eliminated the measurement rule immediately.
Well, recently, I added it back in . . . but, with a twist that makes it much fairer, and gives as much benefit to the offense as the defense. Now, when the APBA Football board result either lands exactly on the first down marker or one yard short of the marker, I will apply the same single die roll to see if it is a first down or not – “odd” first down, “even” not.
So, in the James Wilder example above, the result could have been 10 yards on the APBA boards, but an “even” die roll for the measurement would have resulted in the measurement coming up “short,” and, instead of a 10 yard gain, Wilder would be credited with a “9” yard gain. Then, if his next run resulted in a “0” yard run on the APBA boards, effectively one yard shy of the first down, you would still roll that indicator die, and, if it comes up “odd,” then he would be credited with a one yard gain and a first down. Exactly what I saw happen in that Pre-season game.
As you can imagine, this adds an extra level of excitement to the game playing experience and can be a lot of fun, especially near the goal line. I have had some great goal-line drama as a result.
This innovation is very easy to implement and I think is worth considering for your APBA Football gaming experience.
As always, if you have comments, good or bad, about any of the innovations I share on this forum, I would love to hear them!